But don't be fooled - mission and vision statements aren't just business formalities. They should be the lifeblood of your business, reflecting your passion and commitment to making the world a better place through business.
Here we explore the difference between mission and vision. When you're clear on both, you'll have tapped into the core passion of your business, and that can activate a powerful driving force to grow your business into something that makes money and reflects your values.
What is your mission?
At the simplest level, the mission of a business answers the question, "Why do we exist?" or "Why do we do what we do?"
To find out your mission, ask yourself:
- Why did you start your business?
- What change do you want your business to play a part in, in our world?
- When you look back on your business in the future, what will you be able to say about its value, beyond profits and figures?
By asking these questions, you'll want to find the mission underlying your business, that is bigger than your own company. Your competitors are likely on the same mission, too. The mission is far higher than the mechanics of your business - it's a more ambitious and lofty goal.
Am I too small for a mission?
Even small businesses should have mission statements. For example, a local cupcake shop could have a mission to 'innovate cupcake making by creating exciting new flavor combinations'. A children's party planning business could have a mission to 'make every child feel special and valued on their birthday'.
It's easy to see how having a mission can change the focus of the business away from simply making money, and can help to grow the business into something really special. For example, a regular cupcake shop may not make waves, but one that created exciting new flavors may attract attention. In the future, it may become a franchise. A regular kids' party planning business is just like the thousands of others out there. But one that goes out of their way to make the birthday boy or girl feel extra special and valued is likely to create amazing experiences and get many more bookings through word-of-mouth recommendations.
Having a mission can be that extra 'something', a sparkle or glow about the business that sets it apart from others and makes it special. It makes the work mean something more to employees, making them feel they are a part of something important and adds a deeper dimension to everything the business does.
Inspiring mission statements from the big players
Tesla's mission is 'to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy'. Google's is 'to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful'. Uber's mission is to have 'transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone'. Facebook's mission is 'to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together'.
You'll notice that all these missions are bigger than the companies themselves - they're wider and broader and concern the whole of our global society. All these missions reflect how these companies want to see the world change - why they do what they do.
What is your vision?
Your vision is about your plan for your business in the future - how it is going to be a powerful part of creating the better world you set out in your mission.
To understand your vision, ask yourself questions like:
- What are our hopes and dreams for our company?
- What problems are we solving for the greater good?
- How is it going to look when we're actively living our mission?
Inspiring vision statements from the big players
Tesla's vision is to 'create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world's transition to electric vehicles'. Google's vision is 'to provide access to the world's information in one click', while Uber visions 'smarter transportation with fewer cars and greater access. Transportation that's safer, cheaper, and more reliable; transportation that creates more job opportunities and higher incomes for drivers.' Facebook's vision is that 'people use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.'
When you have your mission and vision statement in place, it can feel like your business is ready to take over the world! Hold that passion close, and infuse it into every area of your business - day-to-day operations, hiring, strategy, and more. Include it in your marketing and your staff training, communicating with employees and the wider world exactly what you stand for, and how you want to change the world in your own way.
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